“The Arts and Person-Centered Care” caregiver workshop

Frail, ill elders need love.  They need hugs, reassurance, help navigating and perambulating, help opening up and reading the mail, help with their meds, their appointments, keeping clean, neat and presentable; help maintaining their dignity and personhood.  Many a strong person cowers at the thought of providing intimate support to an older adult, but here is precisely where caregivers, those very special people among us, shine.

“I like knowing that I’m treating someone the way I hope I’ll be treated someday,” is how one caregiver put it.  “I cared for my ailing parents in my twenties,’ said another.  “It’s something I’ve always loved doing.”

One of our recent blogs mentions the very real high stress to pay ratio and the significant turnover rates associated with caregiving jobs.  That is why support for caregivers is built into our training, advocacy and outreach programs.

In early March we presented ‘Singing for Elder Health and Wellness’ to caregivers at Harbor’s Edge Retirement.  More recently we’ve presented on ‘The Arts and Person-Centered Care’ in Virginia Beach.  On Monday, March 19, we presented this 1.5-hour workshop to SeniorCorp caregivers.

Kitwood defines personhood as “A status or standing that is bestowed upon one human being by others, in the context of relationship and social being.  It implies recognition, respect and trust.”  When we convey personhood upon another, we are allowing a relationship to transpire that is enabling, empathetic, considerate, collaborative and respectful. 

We can turn to the arts as a tool to help caregivers bring more personhood into their care of others.  The arts provide an individual with choice, freedom, control, non-verbal forms of communication and much more.  The arts, because they involve so many areas of neuro-cognition, bypass limitations and go directly to a person’s strengths, allowing them to share their deeply held beliefs, life experiences and acquired wisdom and perspectives.  Precious gifts and legacies that should be conveyed from one generation to the next, can be, more often, easily and deeply, through the arts.

“The arts are a brain thing” was stressed and underscored during the presentation through informative TedTalks and movie clips.  We shared how the Rules of Improv are now used to build stronger communications with care partners (including those with dementia), family members, co-workers and more.  Workshop participants had a chance to relate the information to their particular caregiving situations.  More resources, including training videos on Tidewater Arts Outreach and National Center for Creative Aging websites, our reference library and many YouTube sources were cited.

Trainings like this are unique in an arena that often focuses on illness, limitations and consumer safety, first and foremost.  Our information instead looks at giving power back to the ‘patient,’ looking beyond their limitations and enabling them to do and be as much as they can.  The role of caregiver is to help to find appropriate solutions to the very real limitations of illness, old age and infirmity.  The caregiver is a primary resource for the elder, a VIP whose role can’t be underestimated.  There is much to be gained from operating out of this point of view.

Caregivers had this feedback about the session:

97.8% overall satisfaction for the workshop on ‘The Art and Person-Centered Care.’

Answers to some of our survey questions:

How can this workshop be improved?

  • Increase the content for this workshop
  • Allot more time for this workshop  (3)
  • I liked the dance song; maybe do some acting out of dance and song.

What is most valuable about this workshop? 

  • Teaching me new techniques
  • Great videos, learned about the brain
  • Very Intuitive Information.
  • All the information (3)

Other comments:

  • It was great.
  • It was all awesome.
  • I loved the Four Rules of Improv.

One participant shared her story: her mom suffers from dementia.  She’d hoped to get her interested in some of the new adult coloring books.  It was a ‘no-go’ – mom was not taking part – until she found a ‘fashions of the 50’s’ art/coloring book – her mom is now all in and loves reminiscing about and recreating the fashions from her stylistic hey-day.  It underscores the importance of experimenting, researching and trying different things to find what works for the person in your care.

Email us if you’d like to know more about our workshops.  We are able to present these events because of funding support from Thistle Foundation, Aetna Foundation, Landmark Foundation, local arts commissions, individual donors and these funders:

Surveys from 3.19.18: